Former Red Sox prospect Jay Groome named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week; left-hander has posted 3.48 ERA since being traded to Padres

Former Red Sox pitching prospect Jay Groome was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for the week of September 12-18 on Monday.

In his last start for Triple-A El Paso, Groome scattered three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts across six scoreless innings in a 13-0 win over the Round Rock Express.

Since joining the Chihuahuas’ rotation last month, Groome has posted a 3.48 ERA and 4.52 FIP with 36 strikeouts to 18 walks over eight starts spanning 41 1/3 innings of work. Opposing batters are hitting .277 with a .777 OPS off the left-hander.

A former first-round selection of the Red Sox in 2016, Groome was dealt to the Padres in exchange for veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer and fellow prospects Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier at the trade deadline.

At that time, Groome was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The 24-year-old southpaw is now ranked by the publication as the No. 10 prospect in San Diego’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds, Groome operates with a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 95-96 mph, a 76-80 mph curveball, a 79-82 mph changeup, and an 85-87 mph slider. The New Jersey native is already on the Padres’ 40-man roster and will have just one minor-league option remaining after this season.

Taking that into account, MLB Pipeline notes that the Padres could elect to use Groome out of the bullpen if they no longer believe he has starter potential.

(Picture of Jay Groome: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Enmanuel Valdez takes home International League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox infield prospect Enmanuel Valdez was named the International League Player of the Week for the week of August 29-September 4, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Triple-A Worcester’s last series against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park, Valdez appeared in all six games and went 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, one stolen base, three walks, and four strikeouts. He finished a single shy of the cycle on Sunday.

Since making his WooSox debut on Aug. 3, Valdez has batted .236/.325/.500 (114 wRC+) to go along with six doubles, one triple, seven homers, 27 runs driven in, 22 runs scored, two stolen bases, 15 walks, and 31 strikeouts over 28 games (127 plate appearances). Among those in the International League who have made at least 120 trips to the plate this season, the left-handed hitter ranks 51st in slugging percentage and 16th in isolated power (.264), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Valdez has seen playing time at three different positions in his time with the WooSox. After starting at second base on Sunday, the 5-foot-9, 191-pounder has logged 213 innings at second, 15 innings at third, and 17 innings in left field.

Valdez, 23, was originally signed by the Astros for $450,000 as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The Red Sox acquired the San Juan de la Maguana native and fellow prospect Wilyer Abreu from Houston in exchange for catcher Christian Vazquez ahead of last month’s trade deadline.

Now, Valdez is regarded by Baseball America as the 16th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system. The publication describes him as “a bat-first infielder with a good combination of power and contact.” While there are some defensive concerns, he is “a tough out that grinds out at-bats, can hit for contact and punish mistakes.”

Valdez, who turns 24 in December, can become eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the November deadline. Unlike Eddinson Paulino, who has yet to play above Low-A, Valdez seems like more of a lock to be added given his experience and level of production at Triple-A.

“If he were going to get called up tomorrow, I think his ability to play [multiple] positions would be very valuable for a major-league clubhouse and a major-league bench,” Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham said of Valdez in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “He can play infield. He can play a corner (outfield) spot. And he can run into baseballs with power. So, I think the skillset lends itself really well to being an impactful major-league player. We’ve seen athleticism, and we’ve seen some areas that can be improved upon. I know our Triple-A staff already feel they’ve made some strides ins some of the smaller motor learning skills that he can improve upon while being in the infield, whether that be first-step quickness or the way he moves from left to right. And same thing in the outfield, some of the first step and quickness, I think he’s shown improvement on.”

“But, I think we’ve got a twitchy guy who has power, who drives the baseball, and the better he’s able to have an understanding of the strike zone and what he needs to do to consistently drive the baseball to all fields will allow him to be more impactful,” added Abraham. “But I think in a lot of ways he’s someone who’s incredibly unique, who can do all of those things (that profile well as a utility man) and still be someone who can play one position and play there for a consistent amount of time. I think that’s incredibly valuable these days. As we know, our Major League team has a bunch of those guys, our Triple-A team has a bunch of those guys. Getting yourself in the lineup to make an impact is really important.”

(Picture of Enmanuel Valdez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox acquire relief prospect Taylor Broadway from White Sox to complete Jake Diekman/Reese McGuire trade

When the Red Sox acquired catcher Reese McGuire from the White Sox in exchange for veteran reliever Jake Diekman earlier this month, they also ensured they would be receiving a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal.

That player to be named later was revealed on Tuesday night, as Boston announced it has acquired minor-league right-hander Taylor Broadway from Chicago to complete the McGuire/Diekman trade from Aug. 1.

Broadway, 25, was originally selected by the White Sox in the sixth round of the 2021 amateur draft out of the University of Mississippi. After beginning his collegiate career at Tyler Junior College, the righty transferred to Ole Miss as a sophomore and spent three seasons in Oxford.

As a senior, Broadway emerged as one of the top relievers in the Southeastern Conference by posting a 3.44 ERA and notching 16 saves in 30 appearances for the Rebels. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound hurler was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 370 prospect heading into last year’s draft and ultimately signed with Chicago for $30,000.

In the midst of his first full professional season, Broadway has pitched to a 5.02 ERA — but much more respectable 3.57 FIP — with 77 strikeouts to just 16 walks over 40 relief appearances spanning 52 innings of work between High-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. Thirty-seven of those appearances came with Birmingham, though, and the Oviedo, Fla. native will now report to Double-A Portland.

According to Baseball America, Broadway “throws a fastball in the 91-95 mph range that has been up to 97 with good riding life and mixes in two distinct breaking balls. His slider is a hard pitch in the upper 80s with impressive vertical bite and his curveball is a bit slower but still in the lower 80s with a bit of a bigger shape.”

With the Sea Dogs, Broadway will join fellow 2021 draftees Alex Binelas and Niko Kavadas.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Jarren Duran leads the way with 3 RBIs as Red Sox hold on for 3-2 win over Astros

On a day filled with distractions — and trades — the Red Sox pulled off a come-from-behind victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Monday night.

Boston defeated Houston by a final score 3-2 to improve to 52-52 on the season and win back-to-back games for the first time since July 9-10.

Nathan Eovaldi, in what could be his final start with the Red Sox ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, put together a gritty performance at his hometown ballpark. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs — both of which were unearned — on four hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of work.

Both of those runs came in the bottom of the third inning. With the Red Sox already in possession of a 1-0 lead, Jose Altuve led off by reaching first base on a Christian Arroyo fielding error. Yuli Gurriel then grounded into what had the makings to be a 6-4-3 double play, but Xander Bogaerts misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to reach base safely. Yordan Alvarez proceeded to plate Altuve on a game-tying sacrifice fly while Aledmys Diaz drove in Gurriel on an RBI double.

Eovaldi managed to strand Diaz at second base in the process of retiring the next 11 batters he faced. With one out in the seventh, Martin Maldonado lifted a 241-foot flyball to right field that Franchy Cordero could not come up with.

That is how Eovaldi’s night came to a close. The 32-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 97 (60 strikes), though he only averaged 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. His ERA on the season now sits at 3.81.

Offensively, Jarren Duran accounted for all three of Boston’s runs on Monday. Matched up against Astros righty Luis Garcia, Duran laced a ground-rule RBI double to drive in Bobby Dalbec from second with two outs in the third inning.

Fast forward to the fifth, the Dalbec-Duran combination struck again. With Garcia still on the mound for Houston, Dalbec drew a leadoff walk and Duran once more came up to the plate with two outs.

On a first-pitch, 84 mph cutter from Garcia, Duran crushed a 379-foot two-run shot to right field. Duran’s second home run of the season left his bat at 98.1 mph. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-2.

In relief of Eovaldi, John Schreiber received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. With one runner on and two outs to get in the seventh, Schreiber got Altuve to ground into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play. He then allowed two of the first three Astros he faced to reach in the eighth before retiring Kyle Tucker and punching out Jeremy Pena on six pitches.

That paved the way for Tanner Houck in the ninth. Houck made relative quick work of the Astros to record his seventh save of the season and his first since June 25.

Next up: Crawford vs. Javier

The Red Sox will go for a rare series win over the Astros on Tuesday night. Kutter Crawford will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Cristian Javier will do the same for Houston.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Tommy Pham from Reds

The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the Reds in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced Monday night.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the player to be named later going from Boston to Cincinnati is not expected to be a prominent prospect.

Pham, 34, signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Reds back in March. That deal included a $6 million mutual option and a $1.5 million buyout, so it is worth $7.5 million in guaranteed money.

In 91 games with Cincinnati this season, the right-handed hitter batted .238/.320/.374 (92 wRC+) with 11 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 39 RBIs, 57 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 42 walks, and 100 strikeouts over 387 plate appearances.

Defensively, Pham has seen all his playing time this year come in left field, registering seven outfield assists and three defensive runs saved across 716 innings at the position. He also has past experience in center and in right field.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals, Pham broke in with St. Louis in 2014 before putting his name on the map three years later, when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. The Las Vegas native spent the next season-and-a-half in Tampa Bay, where he had the chance to get acquainted with Chaim Bloom.

Since being traded from the Rays to Padres in December 2019, shortly after Bloom left for Boston, things have not gone all that well for Pham. Dating back to the start of the 2022 season, he owns a .701 OPS over his last 277 games between San Diego and Cincinnati.

In late May, Pham made headlines when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football. He was handed down a three-game suspension as a result.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Christian Vázquez to Astros for prospects Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu

The Red Sox have traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros for minor-leaguers Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu, the club announced Monday night.

Vazquez, who was with the Red Sox in Houston ahead of their series against the Astros, was informed of the trade while taking batting practice at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon. So he only had to walk across the field to join his new team.

Originally selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft, Vazquez had been the longest-tenured player in the organization. The native Puerto Rican was in the final year of his contract after having his $7 million club option picked up back in November.

Given that Vazquez was slated to become a free-agent for the first time in his career this winter, the Red Sox elected to deal the 31-year-old backstop to the Astros for a pair of prospects.

Coming into play on Monday, Vazquez was batting a stout .282/.327/.432 with 20 doubles, eight home runs, 42 RBIs, 33 runs scored, one stolen base, 18 walks, and 51 strikeouts over 84 games (318 plate appearances) this season. Among American League catchers who have made at least 100 trips to the plate, the right-handed hitter ranks third in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, and eighth in wRC+ (111), per FanGraphs.

From behind the plate, Vazquez has thrown out 16 of a possible 53 base stealers while putting up five defensive runs saved over 643 1/3 innings. He has also seen some playing time at first and second base.

As for who the Red Sox are getting back in exchange for Vazquez, Valdez was regarded by Baseball America as the Astros’ No. 12 prospect while Abreu was regarded as their No. 21 prospect.

Valdez, 23, originally signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The left-handed hitter has slashed .327/.410/.606 with with 21 homers, 77 RBIs, 66 runs scored, and five stolen bases over 82 games (378 plate appearances) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. He has played first base, second base, left field, and right field this year.

Abreu, also 23, signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2017. The left-handed hitter has spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Corpus Christi, batting .249/.399/.459 with 15 home runs, 54 RBIs, 81 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases across 89 games spanning 411 trips to the plate. He has seen playing time at all three outfield positions.

In the wake of trading Vazquez to Houston, the Red Sox have recalled catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester. Hernandez will serve as Boston’s No. 2 catcher behind Kevin Plawecki before the newly-acquired Reese McGuire joins the team.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Reese McGuire from White Sox in exchange for Jake Diekman

The Red Sox have acquired catcher Reese McGuire and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the White Sox in exchange for left-hander Jake Diekman, the club announced Monday evening.

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Sox have parted ways with one of their highest-paid relievers in order to bolster their catching depth in the wake of reportedly trading Christian Vazquez to the Astros.

Diekman, 35, was just four-plus months into his Red Sox tenure after signing a two-year, $8 million deal with Boston that also included a $4 million team option for 2024 back in March.

In 44 relief appearances for the Sox, Diekman posted a 4.23 ERA and 4.97 FIP with 50 strikeouts to an unsettling 30 walks over 38 1/3 innings of work. The native Nebraskan proved effective when he had command of the strike zone, but that often was not the case.

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the White Sox will pay the remainder of Diekman’s salary through 2023. So the Red Sox will be off the hook for $4 million in terms of average annual value next season.

McGuire, meanwhile, is a former first-round draft pick of the Pirates who broke in with the Blue Jays in 2018 and spent the first four seasons of his major-league career in Toronto. He was dealt to the White Sox in exchange for fellow backstop Zack Collins back in April.

On the south side of Chicago, the left-handed hitting 27-year-old batted .225/.261/.285 with nine doubles, 10 RBIs, 12 runs scored, six walks, and 33 strikeouts over 53 games (166 plate appearances). He also threw out 11 of a possible 36 base stealers while splitting time behind the plate with Yasmani Grandal and Seby Zavala.

A Seattle-area native, McGuire is earning $722,400 this season and is slated to become eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. He is therefore under club control through the end of the 2025 campaign.

(Picture of Reese McGuire: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Yankees acquire former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from Royals

The Yankees have acquired former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals in exchange for three pitching prospects, the clubs announced late Wednesday night.

Benintendi, 28, was viewed as an appealing target ahead of the August 2 trade deadline given the fact that he is slated to become a free-agent at the end of the season and was playing for a 39-59 Royals team that is not contending for anything.

A first-time All-Star in his second year in Kansas City, the left-handed hitting Benintendi is currently batting .320/.387/.398 with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 39 RBIs, 40 runs scored, four stolen bases, 39 walks, and 52 strikeouts over 93 games (390 plate appearances) this season.

Defensively, Benintendi is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he took home the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder has yet to commit an error at the position this season while posting an ultimate zone rating of 7.1 across 766 innings.

While Benintendi’s on-field performance has been solid, there were some concerns about his unwillingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after missing the Royals’ four-game series in Toronto earlier this month. It remains to be seen if he has changed his stance and will get vaccinated now that he is on a contender, but the Yankees only have to play three more regular season games north of the border (from September 26-28), anyway.

In return for Benintendi, the Royals are receiving right-handers Chandler Champlain and Beck Way and left-hander T.J. Sikkema from the Yankees. Champlain, selected in the ninth round of last year’s draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 29 prospect in New York’s farm system. Way, selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in New York’s farm system. Sikkema, selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in New York’s farm system.

Interestingly enough, the Royals are slated to open a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx on Thursday, so Benintendi will not need to travel far to join his new team.

Benintendi, who spent the first five years of his major-league career (and won a World Series title with) the Red Sox, will get to experience baseball’s greatest rivalry from the other side when the Yankees come to Boston for a three-game series at Fenway park next month.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez returns to Red Sox lineup after missing last 4 games with back spasms

After missing the last four games because of back spasms, J.D. Martinez is back in the Red Sox lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Guardians at Fenway Park.

Martinez will bat cleanup while serving as Boston’s designated hitter. The veteran slugger missed all of last weekend’s series against the Blue Jays and was absent from Monday night’s rain-filled 3-1 win over Cleveland.

In 81 games this season, Martinez is batting .302/.368/.481 with 30 doubles, nine home runs, 38 RBIs, 51 runs scored, 31 walks, and 84 strikeouts across 356 trips to the plate. The right-handed hitting 34-year-old represented the Red Sox in last week’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout off the bench.

Martinez, who actually turns 35 next month, is eligible to become a free-agent at the end of the season as he is in the final year of the five-year, $109.95 million contract he signed with Boston back in February 2018.

While Martinez’s run in Boston has been a rousing success, the Red Sox could look to deal the five-time All-Star if they decide to sell at the August 2 trade deadline.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on Kyle Schwarber as slugger nears return from injury: ‘Don’t bet against him’

After an encouraging workout at Fenway Park on Wednesday, first baseman/outfielder Kyle Schwarber appears to be on the verge of beginning a rehab assignment, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Schwarber, who the Sox acquired from the Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez in late July, has been on the injured list because of a right hamstring strain since July 3.

This past weekend in Toronto, the 28-year-old slugger suffered a minor setback in his recovery on account of some left groin tightness, but it was one that did not throw off his timetable by that much, if at all.

Because of that, Schwarber could very well start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Thursday. Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, he is eve expected to be in the WooSox’ starting lineup for their matchup against the Syracuse Mets at Polar Park.

That being said, it is unclear at the moment how long Schwarber’s rehab assignment with the WooSox will last. As noted by Cotillo, the left-handed power hitter has been held out of action since July 2 and is also learning to play first base — a relatively new position for him — on the fly.

“If it’s up to him, he’ll probably say hi to the guys and come back and perform,” Cora told reporters Wednesday (including Cotillo). “I think we’ve done everything possible to get him to a spot that, offensively, he feels right. Indoor, outdoor, with everything. Velocity, spin, everything.”

At the time he sustained that right hamstring strain last month, Schwarber was in the midst of a career year for the Nationals and was named to his first career All-Star team as a result.

Over 72 games with Washington, the 6-foot, 229 pounder slashed .253/.340/.570 to go along with nine doubles, 25 home runs, 53 RBI, and 42 runs scored across 303 trips to the plate, primarily as a left fielder.

In the month of June alone, Schwarber went on an absolute tear in regards to hitting the ball out of the ballpark, as he clubbed 16 of his 25 homers — 12 of which came in a 10-game span from June 19 through June 29.

On top of the production he can provide from the left side of the plate, Schwarber is no stranger to adversity, either.

Going back to the 2016 season, the former Cubs fan favorite tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in early April, but returned just in time for that October’s World Series, where he posted a .971 OPS en route to Chicago’s historic triumph over the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

This feat is something Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has alluded to in the time since Boston acquired Schwarber, and it’s also something Cora pointed to on Wednesday.

“You guys saw what happened when they won the World Series (in 2016),” Cora said. “How quick he came back and how good he was when he did what he did when the Cubs won the World Series. Don’t bet against him. He feels great, he moves well and we’ll go from there.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)